Against All Odds: Ethnology and Anthropology between Theory and Praxis
Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology was established as an internal organizational unit with the decision by the Academic Council of the Faculty of Natural Sciences and Mathematics in 2005.The establishment of the Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology opened opportunities for
the advancement of the disciplines in multiple directions. Gradually and with many difficulties, the human capacities have been in development because, as in other areas of science, investments in the rejuvenation of staff occurred with difficulties. On the other hand, the formation of highly targeted and specialized personnel in the fields of ethnology and anthropology is a lengthy process, and the educational tradition in the field of ethnology in Macedonia was interrupted for more than 40 years. It was after 2000 that the process of modernizing the curricula of Ethnology and Anthropology began, corresponding to world and European higher education criteria.
The road that the Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology, its staff and students go through suggests many obstacles and difficulties, but also enormous potential and development, which can be seen through the development of the content of the curriculum in the last 10-15 years. This improvement can also be seen in the content and approaches to research carried out within the daily activities. I have often thought in the past, but now I want to publicly share with the audience, of my fascination in the power of individuals, strong personalities who have enough humanity, understanding for the conditions and capacities for solving problems,
contributing to significant steps in the development of the events. In this context I would like to mention the personality of our teacher Aneta Svetieva.
She is the most prominent and most important personality in the process of creation of the Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology. With the creation of the Institute, besides the formal sense that it is the only one institution providing higher education and research on a national level in the fields of ethnology and anthropology, many other perspectives have been opened up that professor Aneta Svetieva as a visionary spoke of and advocated for years. Her personal efforts for the re-institutionalization of the academic studies and the research work in such an institute obviously were to the detriment of her own career as a researcher, because the time
used in these activities was long-lasting, and the conditions to achieve the goals were extremely difficult, humiliating and exhausting. However, like several other predecessors, Aneta Svetieva decided to walk this road not only for herself, but above all for all of us, the generations after her, and most of all for ethnology and anthropology and for Macedonia. Knowing the situation in the neighbouring countries and beyond, she always emphasizes the importance of these disciplines in the functioning and existence of modern societies, being aware of the uses and abuses of the disciplines in the politicization of the past and the present.
I also want to emphasize the importance of the personality of professor Icko Gjorgoski, current and former Dean of the Faculty, in whose mandates, the first one 10 years ago, and this one in 2015, the Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology advanced two huge steps. In 2005, it became
a separate unit at the faculty, and in 2015 the Institute moved into new premises, which replaced the previous dilapidated barracks, thus creating premises for more accelerated institutional development of our institution.
At this occasion, once again we express our gratitude to him for openness, understanding and managing this large and diverse faculty in these relatively tough times.
This institute is the successor of the Seminar of Ethnography and Ethnology founded in 1946 within the newly established Faculty of Philosophy. The seminar started working under the guidance of Professor Branislav Rusic, founder of Ethnology in post-war Socialist Republic of Macedonia.
In the period from 1946 to 1951 about 75 students enrolled and studied the studies in ethnology. In the academic year 1952/53, under strange political circumstances, the Ministry of Education decided to abolish the studies in ethnology with an elaboration that the studies in ethnology, according to the curriculum and the profile that is being produced, had been
overlapping with the studies of history of arts at the Faculty of Philosophy. After closing the studies in ethnology, ethnology as subject was given to studies in Geography and Professor Branislav Rusic was completely marginalized.
Macedonia remained until the mid of the 1980s of the twentieth century with no specific studies of ethnology, when, again as a result of educational policies, there was created an initiative for the re-training of redundant graduate geographers into ethnologists. For this purpose,
the program for semi-studies in ethnology was created, in which students enrolled after the second year of studies in geography. It was only in the late eighties, precisely in 1988, after efforts of several prominent figures in the field of ethnology, the four year studies in the field of Ethnology were established, institutionally still within the frames of the Institute of Geography
at the Faculty of Natural Sciences and Mathematics.
Since the late nineties of the 20th century, the process of introducing courses in the field of cultural and social anthropology, with visible significant changes in the discourses in the disciplines, both in ethnology and in anthropology, started slowly and gradually. Today, study programs in ethnology and anthropology are largely compatible with the studies of these
disciplines of other European university centres. However, as a result of more than 4 decades of a vacuum in education in the field of ethnology, Macedonia still has a huge gap in staff capacities.
From 2015, the Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology is housed in new premises in the lower building of the Faculty of Natural Sciences and Mathematics and has all the spatial conditions for successful work.